WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 29, 2022
TOPIC: IF IT HAD NOT BEEN THE LORD WHO WAS ON YOUR SIDE!
BY T. O. BANSO
“‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,’ Let Israel now say – ‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:1-5 New King James Version).
Yesterday, I saw again the typed copy of a message I preached to a group I belonged to some years ago. I was requested to write down the message after, for typing and distribution to my audience. The document is dated 8th September 1991, which means it was prepared over 31 years ago. I would have forgotten the content of the message if I did not write it down. What’s the relevance of this to this devotional?
As this year winds down, you may have so forgotten many things that God did in your life or for you this year to thank Him deeply. Many people easily forget some things God does for them if they don’t write them down as they happen. Few people have developed this habit of recording significant things that God does in their lives. Some people keep a diary of what they want to do or did; they prepare budgets and write down their expenses. But very few people keep a journal of what God is doing or has done in their lives, which will help them to do intentional and purposeful thanksgiving.
Reflect on your life this year as it ends in a few days. Can you remember some significant things God did in your life this year? Suppose God didn’t do those things you can remember, what would have happened? Would the story have been the same today? This is not to belittle or take for granted other things that God did for you daily or regularly. Through the mercies of the LORD, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not (Lamentation 3:22).
Because many people easily forget what God has done in their lives as they don’t write them down to refresh their memory, they do not thank God as they should. Such people tend to behave as if God has not done anything or much for them. They do not show enough gratitude.
David said in Psalm 124:1-5, “‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,’ Let Israel now say- ‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul” (New King James Version).
Please note the phrase “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side.” Some translations put this differently, such as “If the Lord had not been on our side” (New International Version). Some translations put it as a question: “What if the Lord had not been on our side?” (New Century Version). But I want to refer to how it’s presented in the New King James Version and some translations: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side.”
It appears that “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side” is saying that if it had not been the LORD but somebody else that was on the side of Israel, the outcome would have been unfavourable; but Israel’s victory was because it was the LORD who was on her side. In other words, if it had been somebody else that was on the side of Israel, the enemy would have defeated or destroyed her. Romans 8:31b says if God is for us, who can be against us? However, if God is against someone, it doesn’t matter who is for him. It makes no difference who is assisting the person whom God is resisting. They both will fail.
Psalm 124:1-5 were the words of David, a man, who did not forget what the LORD had done for Israel. He remembered when the enemy rose against Israel, which would have led to their defeat or destruction, but the LORD didn’t deliver them to the hands of the enemy. He compared their enemy to raging waters. But the LORD prevented the flood from sweeping them away. The story would have been different if not for the LORD. Isaiah 59:19b says when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.
Thanking the LORD for defending His people, David continued in the remaining verses of Psalm 124: “Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth” (verses 6-8 New King James Version).
David compared Israel to a bird that escaped from the fowler’s snare. Psalm 91:3 says, “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence” (New King James Version). David appreciated the LORD’s deliverance of His people. Do you appreciate how God delivered you many times this year, as it ends?
The writer of Psalm 129 says, “‘Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,’ Let Israel now say — ‘Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed on my back; they made their furrows long.’ The Lord is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked” (verses 1-4 New King James Version). Look at the use of the phrase “Let Israel now say”, which is exactly what David says in Psalm 124:1. Also, Psalm 118:2 says, “Let Israel now say, ‘His mercy endures forever’” (New King James Version). What will you say to the Lord in thanksgiving as this year ends?
Can you remember situations in your life in 2022 when it looks as if you would not make it? It looked as if the enemy would overcome you, you would not recover from an illness, your home would break, your spouse or children would die, you would fail an exam, your business would go bankrupt, and so on. But the Lord had mercy on you and He overturned everything to favour you. Here you are preparing to cross over into the New Year.
Can you remember those dark moments and how God made a way of escape for you? What about the accident that the Lord delivered you from or the trouble God saved you from, which could have landed you in prison? When events like these are fresh, we usually remember them but after some time, some people forget and focus on present challenges, become anxious about them, and forget that God, who delivered them in the past, is still alive. He neither changes nor loses His power.
If you always write down things God is doing or has done in your life, go over them this season and show gratitude to God. If you didn’t write them down, sit down quietly somewhere and think about your life in the last twelve months. You may be able to remember some things, and thank God for them. Be grateful to God for everything. There is nothing you have that you did not receive from Him (1 Corinthians 4:7).
If it had not been God who was on your side, the story would have been different. If it had been somebody else other than God on your side, you wouldn’t be where you are today. But blessed be the Lord, who has not given you as prey to the teeth of the enemy. He delivered your soul as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; He broke the snare and you escaped. Glory be His name.
Show deep gratitude to God. Thank God, who is your help. If it had not been the Lord who was on your side! Psalm 50:14 says, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High” (New King James Version). The writer of Psalm 69 says that he will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving (verse 30). Do the same. Don’t be ungrateful. If it had not been the Lord who was on your side where would you be today?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I thank You that You are the One who was on my side this year. Thank You for your defence and deliverance throughout the year. Thank You for not allowing the challenges of life to drown me and for helping me to escape from the snare of the enemy.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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